Holy Cross Recruiting
by Alex Schwartz
After a long swoon during the holiday season, things have picked back up in a hurry on the recruiting trail. One of the nation’s best big men made his pledge and several, as did a top-notch junior guard and several other players.
Dakari Johnson of Montverde Academy (FL) became yet another part of the star-studded Kentucky recruiting class. The 6-foot-10 class of 2013 center picked the Wildcats over Georgetown and Syracuse.
Johnson had been ranked No. 3 in the NBE Sports Class of 2014 Post-July Top 75, but he has since reclassified up to 2013. UK already has four additional top-15 commits in the NBE Sports Class of 2013 Post-July Top 125, as John Calipari is putting together his, if not the best class yet.
By Brian Bosworth, National Recruiting Analyst
Saturday in Indianapolis was all playoff action at the Adidas Invitational and with higher stakes came stronger performances. All three age groups (15U, 16U, 17U) were represented at the main gym and players from all ages and all places managed to stand out. Here’s a sampling of who impressed.
Top Performers of the Day:
Daniel Hamilton (Dream Vision 2014) – The younger of the pair of brothers on Dream Vision’s 17U squad, Daniel is two inches taller and significantly longer than his older brother. While Daniel’s set of tools on the offensive end is not quite as refined as Isaac, he does have the middle game down to a science. He’s best scoring on runners or floaters going in either direction often using the back board from unusual angles. Hamilton has range out to the 3-point line but is consistently more successful when he puts the ball on the floor and pressures the defense off the dribble. Added strength, improved ball handling skills, and better shot selection can spring board Hamilton’s game to the next level.
Over the last several years much has been written on the shortcomings or pitfalls of the fly-by-night prep schools that seem to come out of the woodwork each year across the country. Some are termed diploma mills or accused of funneling their players to certain programs or conferences.
At the complete opposite spectrum of the schools that operate in the gray areas of the sport is Northfield Mount Hermon. If anything, the program could be accused of funneling its players to a certain conference…the Ivy League!
A tremendous mix of academics and athletics makes Northfield Mount Hermon special. In the last several years the program headed by John Carroll in Northfield (MA) has been a virtual factory of Ivy League basketball players. NMH is considered the best combination of academics and basketball in the United States and in the 2010–2011 season eight NMH alums were in the Ivy League, more than any other school in the nation. That number contines to rise with players like Evan Cummins, Joe Sharkey, Jvonte Brooks and Armani Cotton in recent years following the path and will continue to attract players to the program, like Anthony Dallier, who are looking for similar opportunities.
By Raphielle Johnson
By the end of the last college basketball season it was best to simply expect the unexpected. The same could be said for this weekend in Las Vegas, which has produced an unexpected champion in the Kansas City 76ers. The 76ers won the Las Vegas Fab 48 by beating Team Breakdown (Florida) in Monday night’s title game.
While the stands weren’t filled to brim as they were last summer (Oakland Soldiers tend to bring out the crowds), there were a few college programs represented in the coaches area with 2013 wing Ishmail Wainright the primary focus.
Ben Howland (UCLA) and Steve Lavin (St. John’s) were both there to watch Wainwright, who considers Earl Watson (who has connections to both as he played at UCLA under Lavin) to be an older brother and mentor. Other programs represented include Western Illinois, George Mason, Kansas, Missouri, UC Irvine, South Florida, Cal Poly, Nebraska, UM-KC and Creighton.
Khan/Judah not the only prize fight in town
By Raphielle Johnson
While boxing fans enjoyed the battle between Amir Khan and Zab Judah over at Mandalay Bay, two of the top AAU teams on the West Coast did battle at Bishop Gorman in the Las Vegas Fab 48. Led by the interior tandem of 2012 Brandon Ashley and 2013 Aaron Gordon, the Oakland Soldiers withstood a late rally to beat Belmont Shore 85-80. Both showed off their vast array of skills, especially Gordon with a few thunderous dunks.
The game was also valuable to see what Belmont Shore big men Zena Edsomwan and Grant Jerrett could do against two of the best prep players regardless of class. Edsomwan isn’t the kind of player who’s going to dominate the basketball but rather do the little things on both ends of the floor needed to win. Jerrett had his moments as well but it proved to be a tale of two halves for the Arizona commit.
In the backcourt the battle was just as intense, with the likes of Dominic Artis and Jabari Bird taking on Ikenna Ireogbu and Katin Reinhardt for Belmont Shore. With regards to dribbling skills, Artis may not have an equal in the 2012 class (Kris Dunn is another to consider). Bird can do just about everything on the floor, and while the 2013 prospect needs to continue to improve as a shooter he’s shown the ability to knock down open shots.
College basketball is a year-round sport. In the summer there is news of players coming and going from programs to keep track of, a busy recruiting season and more and more summer leagues that offer the players a chance to stay sharp against high-level competition. While many incoming freshmen just celebrated their high school graduation in the last few weeks and even days, many are already on a college campus and competing in the summer leagues and attending classes with their new teammates.
Today we take a quick run through some of the latest stories in the BIG EAST that touch on each of those subjects…
In Mike Helfgot’s Recruiting Notes in the Chicago Tribune there is an update on 6-foot-2 rising junior Jaylon Tate, who recently confirmed rumors he will be transferring from De La Salle High School to Chicago Simeon. At Simeon Tate will join a loaded roster that includes classmates Jabari Parker and Kendrick Nunn and senior Steve Taylor. All four players are considered sure-fire high-major recruits.
As for Tate, Helfgot reports that has offers from Northwestern, Providence and Xavier, according to his mother, Arisa Johnson, with several other high-majors such as DePaul, Marquette, Tennessee, Florida State and, as of this week, UCLA, expressing serious interest.
by Alex Schwartz
PHILADELPHIA – The 17th annual Rasual Butler All-City Classic took place last night at Benjamin Franklin High School in Philadelphia. The top players in the Philadelphia area took the court for three games, one for each of the high school classes besides the outgoing seniors.
The first contest was the Freshmen Game and the White team defeated the Black team by a score of 94-78 in a matchup of 2014 standouts. The MVP from the victors was 6-foot-5 power forward Jamal Custis of Neumann-Goretti (PA) with 18 points. Eric Anderson was named White’s MVP, as the 6-foot-4 small forward from Haverford (PA) dropped 15 points.
The Defensive Player of the Game award went to the White team’s Conrad Chambers, a 6-foot point guard out of Friends Central (PA). He was the game’s top scorer with 19 points. It was Black’s Malik Smith, a 5-foot-10 point guard from Del Val (PA), who won the Unselfish Player trophy.
Other double-digit scorers for the White team were 6-foot-2 combo guard Ja’Quan Newton and 5-foot-11 point guard Troy Harper. The Neumann-Goretti (PA) teammates had 10 points apiece. For the Black team, 6-foot-1 combo guard Shep Garner and 6-foot-2 combo guard Rashann London, teammates at Roman Catholic (PA), had 14 and 12 respectively. In addition, 6-foot-2 shooting guard Malik Starkes of Olney (PA) added 11.
The second game was easily the best one, with the Black team winning 93-86 in the Sophomore Game featuring 2013 players. The MVP from the winning side was 6-foot-6 small forward Rondae Jefferson of Chester (PA) who had 18 points. For the White team, the MVP was 6-foot-2 shooting guard Rysheed Jordan of Vaux (PA) who also had 18.
The Defensive Player of the Game honor was given to 5-foot-6 point guard Yahmir Greenlee of Boys’ Latin (PA), a member of the White team. Stephen Vasturia, a 6-foot-3 combo guard from St. Joseph’s Prep (PA) on the Black squad, won the Unselfish Player honor. In addition to Jefferson and Jordan, both Black’s 5-foot-10 point guard Britton Lee of Roman Catholic and White’s 6-foot-5 power forward BJ Johnson of Lower Merion (PA) had 18 points.
Three other players finished the game with double figures in the points column. Shafeek Taylor, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Roman Catholic, scored 15 points for Black, while 6-foot-3 combo guard Miles Overton of St. Joseph’s Prep had 14. Finally, 6-foot-8 center Zac Tillman of Shipley School (PA) finished with 11 points for the White squad.
Could Andre Drummond be on a college campus next fall? Possibility was not ruled out on Saturday
By Brian Bosworth
After the Bob Gibbons’ Tournament of Champions field was trimmed at the last minute, many teams were left scrambling for a new home for Memorial Day Weekend. Thankfully, the NERR Invitational sprung together quickly and some of the nations’ top amateur players had a venue to display their talents. Saturday’s action was chock full of future college stars as high profile programs Connecticut Basketball Club (CBC), NE Playaz, Mass Rivals, New Heights, Team Philly, and a host of others were in action. A few players proved themselves to be a cut above the rest and they are outlined below.
Andre Drummond (CBC 2012) – Drummond stands at 6’10” 275 pounds and he is the best high school basketball prospect in the country regardless of class. While often criticized for inconsistent play and a lack of dominance neither issue showed itself on this day. In an afternoon contest with Drive 4 Stardum Drummond had 20 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, and 7 rim shattering dunks. He showcased his full arsenal of skills and truly punished the opponent with his incredible force. Three of his monster dunks came on offensive rebound tip-ins but to simply call them tip-ins doesn’t do them justice. Drummond rises above everyone else on the floor in traffic with his hand easily above the box, grabs offensive boards, and hammers them down all in one fluid motion. It’s the kind of play that maybe 20 people on the planet could pull off and Drummond is an 18 year-old kid who just finished his Junior year of high school.